Etrata, the Silencer is great in every way: it is unblockable creature, removal and an additional way of winning the game at the same time.
Etrata is a legendary creature with two creature subtypes: Vampire and Assassin. Once we have already met with a wonderful vampire — Olivia Voldaren, which become an example where we figured everything out with legendary permanents. If you have any questions regarding that topic, you will find your answers in Olivia’s castle.
Etrata has only two abilities. The first one is static. It’s effect changes game rules. This is that rare case where is the Golden rule of Magic number one is changed — the priority of the card’s text over the rules.
Can’t be blocked
That wording tells us that during the time of the action, based on the turn structure: declare blockers on the declare blockers step no creature can be declared blocked for Etrata.
Furthermore, rules do not tell us that blockers could not be declared in any other way or that Etrata’s combat status could be changed by an effect.
Flash Foliage can put a Saproling token into play blocking Etrata. This can happen after attackers have been declared.
Choking Vines effect is changing a combat status of the target creatures. Etrata can be blocked by this effect.
In the interaction of effects that require blocking a creature and effects that prohibit it, those that prohibit always win.
“Unblockable is not an ability. Therefore, if any effect gives a creature “unblockable”, it remains on it even if a creature loses all the abilities.
Unlike the Bear from the example above, Etrata is unlockable due to its own ability. Therefore, if this ability would be removed, Etrata could be blocked.
Triggered ability of Etrata, the Silencer
“Whenever Etrata deals combat damage to a player, exile target creature that player controls and put a hit counter on that card. That player loses the game if they own three or more exiled cards with hit counters on them. Etrata’s owner shuffles Etrata into their library”.
- Whenever is a determination of the trigger.
- Etrata deals combat damage to a player is a triggered event.
The ability will work only if an event happens. This will not happen in two following cases:
- Neither of players will not get combat damage;
- Etrata’s damage was not combat damage.
Combat damage is damage, which is dealt by attacking or blocking creatures in combat.
If Lightning Prowess’s ability was activated targeting opponent, it will not be considered as combat damage, even if Etrata is a blocking creature at the moment of its activation.
A target of Divine Deflection will get non-combat damage. This spell is not redirecting combat damage from Etrata, it just preventing it, and then it deals the same amount of damage.
- exile target creature that player controls and put a hit counter on that card. That player loses the game if they own three or more exiled cards with hit counters on them. Etrata’s owner shuffles Etrata into their library. — all that long texis is an effect from Etrata’s trigger. We can get it only on resolution of that effect.
Etrata’s trigger gas only one target. If a player who Etrata dealt combat damage does not control any creatures that could be a legal target for a trigger, it will simply be removed from the stack. Nothing else will happened.
Target’s legality will be checked again before resolution. Trigger that lost a target will not be resolved.
If Etrata’s trigger is already on the stack it does not matter what may happened with Etrata itself — trigger is not dependent with its source and will resolve anyway. There is only one exception: when Etrata is a target of its own trigger.
Etrata’s owner shuffles it into their library only if its trigger is resolved and Etrata remains on the battlefield. If Etrata, the Silencer has already left a battlefield, its controller simply shuffles their own library.
201.4 Text that refers to the object it’s on by name means just that particular object and not any other objects with that name, regardless of any name changes caused by game effects.
If you and your opponent both control Etrata, only trigger’s controller will shuffle their Etrata into the library on the resolution. The ability does not care about any other permanents named Etrata.
Changing Etrata or anything that has been representing Etrata in the moment of triggering the ability does not change an effect itself. The card should be shuffled into the owner’s library:
Even if Etrata’s became a pumpkin after its trigger have been resolved (for instance because of the Mirrorwave’s effect), it has to be shuffled into owner’s library on the resolution.
If Lazav, the Multifarious that has copied Etrata dealt combat damage, Lazav should be shuffled into its owner’s library on the trigger’s resolution, even if he had already copied another creature.
If Etrata, the Silencer is a Commander, its owner can put it into command zone instead of shuffling into the library. Anyway, shuffling a library is mandatory.
Creature that became a target of Etrata can be someone’s Commander as well. In this case, its owner can decide to exile it or move to command zone. Afterwards the trigger is resolving as usual: the number of exiled cards with Etrara is checked and Etrata is shuffled into the owner’s library.
If a target for Etrata’s trigger is Brisela, Voice of Nightmares two cards are exiled: Bruna, the Faiding Light and Gisela, the Broken Blade. Both of them exiled with hit counters. This will be very unpleasant for your opponent.
Despite a fact, that exiled token creature will cease to exist only when SBA is done, which will happen after trigger’s resolution, tokens does not count by Etrata’s trigger, because they are not cards.
If a player has 3+ cards with hit counters in exile it does not mean that they automatically lose a game. A check of the card’s number is happening only when Etrata’s trigger is being resolved, not all the time.
How those cards were exiled does not matter for Etrata’s ability. They could have been exiled by another Etrata’s trigger or even any other way.
In multiplayer games the game does not end with one player loosing, therefore after that player lost Etrata still should be shuffled into the owner’s library.
- ⇑ Flash Foliage has been errated: “Cast this spell only during combat after blockers are declared”.
- ⇑ English cards used to have a phrase “is unblockable”. Now template is changed to “can't be blocked”. Russian cards wordings have not been changed.
- ⇑ +2/0 is not going anywhere as well, because it is not an ability, but a change of power and toughness, which is applied after P/T is set into basic 1/1. You can read more about layer 7.
Translated by Aleksandra Ladygina